‘I am in no degree ashamed of having changed my opinions. What physicist who was active in 1900 would dream of boasting that his opinions had not changed?’


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The Basic Writ ings of

Ber trand Russell



‘I am in no degree ashamed of having changed my opinions.

What physicist who was active in 1900 would dream of

boasting that his opinions had not changed?’

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand

Russell


The Basic Writings of

Bertrand Russell

Edited by Robert E. Egner and Lester E. Denonn

With an introduction by John G. Slater



This edition first published 1961

by George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London

First published in Routledge Classics 2009

by Routledge

2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN

Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada

by Routledge

270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016



Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

© 2009 The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation Ltd

lntroduction © 1992 John G. Slater

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted

or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic,

mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter

invented, including photocopying and recording, or in

any information storage or retrieval system, without

permission in writing from the publishers.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library



Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Russell, Bertrand, 1872–1970.

The basic writings of Bertrand Russell / Bertrand Russell.

p. cm. – (Routledge classics)

Originally published as: Basic writings, 1903–1959, London :

George Allen & Unwin, 1961.

Includes index.

1. Philosphy.

I. Title.

B1649.R91 2009

192—dc22

2008052126

ISBN10: 0–415–47238–5 (pbk)

ISBN13: 978–0–415–47238–8 (pbk)

ISBN10: 0–203–87539–7 (ebk)

ISBN13: 978–0–203–87539–1 (ebk)

This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 200

9.

“To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s



collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.”

ISBN 


0-203-87539-7 Master e-book ISBN

C

ONTENTS

i n t r o d u c t i o n   b y   j o h n   g .   s l a t e r

ix

p r e f a c e   b y   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l



xiv

i n t r o d u c t i o n

 by the editors

xvi


e p i g r a m m a t i c   i n s i g h t s   f r o m   t h e   p e n   o f   r u s s e l l

xviii


c h r o n o l o g i c a l   l i s t   o f   r u s s e l l ’s   p r i n c i p a l   w o r k s

xxi


c h r o n o l o g y   o f   t h e   l i f e   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xxiv


a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s

xxviii


s o m e   t h o u g h t s   a b o u t   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xxx


PART I Autobiographical Asides

1

My Religious Reminiscences



3

1

My Mental Development



9

2

Adaptation: An Autobiographical Epitome



23

3

Why I Took to Philosophy



28

4

PART II The Nobel Prize Winning Man of Letters (Essayist and



Short Story Writer)

33

How I Write



35

5

A Free Man’s Worship



38

6

An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish



45

7

The Metaphysician’s Nightmare: 



Retro Me Satanas

72

8



PART III The Philosopher of Language

77

Language



79

9

Sentences, Syntax, and Parts of Speech



90

10

The Uses of Language



103

11

The Cult of ‘Common Usage’



109

12

PART IV The Logician and Philosopher of Mathematics

115

Symbolic Logic



117

13

On Induction



121

14

Preface to 



Principia Mathematica

128


15

Introduction to 



Principia Mathematica

133


16

Summary of Part III



Principia Mathematica

136


17

Summary of Part IV, 



Principia Mathematica

137


18

Summary of Part V, 



Principia Mathematica

140


19

Summary of Part VI, 



Principia Mathematica

143


20

Introduction to the Second Edition,

21

Principia Mathematica

145


Mathematics and Logic

148


22

The Validity of Inference

157

23

Dewey’s New 



Logic

164


24

John Dewey

180

25

PART V The Epistemologist



189

Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge

26

by Description



191

Theory of Knowledge

199

27

Epistemological Premisses



204

28

PART VI The Metaphysician

209

Materialism, Past and Present



211

29

Language and Metaphysics



221

30

The Retreat from Pythagoras



227

31

PART VII The Historian of Philosophy

233

Philosophy in the Twentieth Century



235

32

Aristotle’s Logic



251

33

St Thomas Aquinas



258

34

Currents of Thought in the Nineteenth Century



268

35

The Philosophy of Logical Analysis



277

36

t h e   b a s i c   w r i t i n g s   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l



vi

PART VIII The Psychologist

285


Psychological and Physical Causal Laws

287


37

Truth and Falsehood

296

38

Knowledge Behaviouristically Considered



312

39

PART IX The Moral Philosopher

319

Styles in Ethics



321

40

The Place of Sex Among Human Values



327

41

Individual and Social Ethics



334

42

‘What I Believe’



344

43

The Expanding Mental Universe



368

44

PART X The Philosopher of Education

377

Education



379

45

The Aims of Education



391

46

Emotion and Discipline



408

47

The Functions of a Teacher



413

48

PART XI The Philosopher of Politics

421

The Reconciliation of Individuality and Citizenship



423

49

Philosophy and Politics



432

50

Politically Important Desires



446

51

Why I am not a Communist



457

52

PART XII The Philosopher in the Field of Economics

461

Property


463

53

Dialectical Materialism



478

54

The Theory of Surplus Value



489

55

PART XIII The Philosopher of History

497

On History



499

56

The Materialistic Theory of History



506

57

History as an Art



511

58

PART XIV The Philosopher of Culture: East and West

525

Chinese and Western Civilization Contrasted



527

59

Eastern and Western Ideals of Happiness



535

60

c o n t e n t s



vii

PART XV The Philosopher of Religion

543


The Essence of Religion

545


61

What is an Agnostic?

557

62

Why I am not a Christian



566

63

Can Religion Cure our Troubles?



579

64

PART XVI The Philosopher and Expositor of Science

587

Physics and Neutral Monism



589

65

Science and Education



597

66

Limitations of Scientific Method



602

67

The New Physics and Relativity



610

68

Science and Values



617

69

Non-Demonstrative Inference



629

70

PART XVII The Analyst of International Affairs

643

The Taming of Power



645

71

If We are to Survive this Dark Time—



664

72

What Would Help Mankind Most?



670

73

Current Perplexities



675

74

World Government



682

75

The Next Half-Century



687

76

Life Without Fear



693

77

Science and Human Life



699

78

Open Letter to Eisenhower and Khrushchev



709

79

Man’s Peril



713

80

Methods of Settling Disputes in the Nuclear Age



718

81

i n d e x



723

t h e   b a s i c   w r i t i n g s   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

viii


I

NTRODUCTION BY 

J

OHN 

G. S

LATER

The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell was 

first published in 1961. Although Russell

wrote a preface for it, he had no hand in selecting its contents; that daunting

task fell to its editors, Robert Egner and Lester Denonn. The importance of the

book lies in the picture it gives of Russell’s broad and diverse interests. If any

twentieth-century author is a polymath, then Russell is one. Just about the

only traditional branch of philosophy he did not write on is aesthetics. In a

letter to Lucy Donnelly, written on 19 October 1913, he told her that the

pupil she had sent him from Bryn Mawr had turned up and wanted to study

aesthetics. Unfortunately, Cambridge had no one who could help her with

aesthetics. ‘I feel sure learned aesthetics is rubbish,’ he wrote, ‘and that it

ought to be a matter of literature and taste rather than science. But I don’t

know whether to tell her so.’ Little wonder, then, that he never wrote on the

subject.


Russell’s wide interests developed gradually over the years. From his

grandmother he acquired a love of history and an interest in politics in all of

its forms. A Russell was expected to take an interest in political matters and to

make his opinion known. Russell wrote on a bewildering variety of public

controversies, beginning with free trade and women’s su

ffrage and ending

with the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam war. None of these writings

was philosophical, although he often used philosophical techniques to

demolish an opponent’s argument. In his studies at Cambridge he developed

his talents in mathematics, philosophy, and economics. His 

first degree was

in mathematics, which he capped with a year’s study of philosophy.

Undecided whether to pursue philosophy or economics as a career, he

finally picked the former and wrote a successful Fellowship dissertation for

Trinity College on non-Euclidean geometry, which made use of both of his


undergraduate subjects. But he continued to read economics books, which

helped him in his researches on German social democracy, the topic of his

first book; after that, economics tends to fade from the picture. While a fellow

at Cambridge he wondered whether he had any talent for experimental

science, so he arranged to spend some time working in the Cavendish Labora-

tory, but he quickly discovered that he had no such talent. He did, however,

keep abreast with the new physics as it developed, at least until the early

1930s. After that there is no evidence that he continued to read original

articles as they came out, although right through the 1950s he continued to

read books on physics. His interest in science was not con

fined to physics; he

studied it widely enough to be comfortable generalizing about its method; he

adopted a version of the scienti

fic method as his guide to philosophizing.

One question to which he applied his scienti

fic method concerned the

nature of mind. To prepare himself to analyse mental concepts he read very

widely in the psychological literature of his day, especially the writings of the

behaviourists. At about the same time, he was becoming increasingly inter-

ested in the philosophy of education. This interest arose from the need to

provide an education for his own children. None of the available schools

seemed suitable, so he and his second wife decided to open their own school.

Running a school proved a formidable task. Russell tried to give guidance to

his teachers and others by writing on education; his books and articles

defend what is called the progressive view of education.

His school made a heavy drain on his resources, which he had to make up

by writing and lecturing for payment. During the 1920s he regularly made

lecture tours of the United States, where he was paid much better than

elsewhere. And he accepted nearly every o

ffer to write for cash. For a long

period, to cite one remarkable example, he wrote a short article every week

for the Hearst newspapers. These little pieces usually took some catchy

topic—‘Who May Use Lipstick?’ or ‘Do Dogs Think?’—and discussed it

wittily. In a few of them there is quite serious philosophical argument, but

mostly they are just fun. As the examples suggest, they range widely, and

accordingly add greatly to the sweep of Russell’s writings. What is really

impressive about them is their erudition; Russell, it seems, never forgot a

word he had read.

History, as already mentioned, was another subject for which Russell had a

lifetime fascination. Very early in the century he wrote an essay, ‘On History’,

reprinted in this book, which he opened with this ringing declaration: ‘Of all

the studies by which men acquire citizenship of the intellectual common-

wealth, no single one is so indispensable as the study of the past.’ He goes on

to argue that history is important for two reasons: 

first, because it is true; and

second, because it enlarges the imagination and suggests feelings and courses

of action that may otherwise never fall within the reader’s experience. On

t h e   b a s i c   w r i t i n g s   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

x


later occasions he wrote further on the nature of history and its role in

human life. The Problem of China (1922) was his 

first historical study and one

fruit of the year he spent in China. In 1934 he published a political history of

the hundred years preceding the outbreak of the First World War; he called it

Freedom and Organization, 1814–1914. And later in the decade he undertook a

practical history project, the editing for publication of the papers of his

parents, Lord and Lady Amberley. The Amberley Papers was published in 1937 in

two large volumes. For an understanding of his family background it is an

indispensable document. During the war, when he was stranded in the

United States, he wrote A History of Western Philosophy (1945). It is not as reliable

a history as some of the more standard e

fforts, but it is a stimulating book to

read, because Russell brings his formidable critical skills to bear on the views

and arguments of his predecessors.

Russell is perhaps best known to the general public for his views on

religion, a topic which engaged his attention from boyhood onward. Reading

John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography led him to lose his belief in God. Before read-

ing Mill he thought the 

first-cause argument proved God’s existence, but Mill

wrote that his father had taught him that to say that God caused the world

immediately raised the question what caused God, because if everything

requires a cause then God does too. Newly bereft of religious belief, Russell

went up to Cambridge where, to his surprise and delight, he found the

majority shared his view. For a time, when his love for Lady Ottoline Morrell

was in full bloom, he professed to share her interest in mystical religion. ‘The

Essence of Religion’, included here, is a fruit of that period. After this detour,

he returned to his usual agnosticism. In 1927 he delivered his famous lecture,

‘Why I Am Not a Christian’, which shocked the theologians and T. S. Eliot. It

too is reprinted here. Delighted that he had touched a raw nerve, he followed

it with a number of other essays critical of established religion. Most of these

have been collected together, by Paul Edwards, in Why I Am Not a Christian and

Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects (1957). Edwards includes a valuable

appendix detailing the way in which Russell was prevented in 1940 from

taking up a professorship in philosophy at the College of the City of New

York. Since the 

fight was led by high-ranking clerics, it seems more than

likely that it was his anti-religious writings and not his views on premarital

sexual relations in Marriage and Morals (1929) that stirred their ire.

It is nearly impossible to indicate all of the areas of human concern to

which Russell contributed his views. But the new reader should be warned

that Russell himself did not regard these popular writings as philosophical.

Indeed, he did not even think that his books on political theory were philo-

sophical. In the course of replying to his critics in The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell

(1944), edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp, he made the point that none of these

popular pieces was to be judged by philosophical standards. ‘I did not write

i n t r o d u c t i o n   b y   j o h n   g .   s l a t e r

xi


Principles of Social Reconstruction in my capacity as a “philosopher”; I wrote it as a

human being who su

ffered from the state of the world, wished to find some

way of improving it, and was anxious to speak in plain terms to others who

had similar feelings. If I had never written technical books, this would be

obvious to everybody; and if the book is to be understood, my technical

activities must be forgotten.’ Philosophy proper was concerned with prob-

lems of logical analysis; therefore much that was traditionally regarded as

philosophical turns out, on his conception, not to be so. Even ethics, which

he did write upon, was largely excluded; he did allow that some ethical

sentences present certain logical problems and to that extent ethics was

philosophical, but most of it was not. Happily for the reader, Russell did not

refrain from writing on topics he thought unphilosophical, otherwise this

book would be much thinner, and much less fun to read, than it is.

Perhaps it would be 

fitting if I were to conclude this introduction with a

brief tribute to Lester E. Denonn (1901–1985), one of the book’s editors,

whose name has been associated with that of Russell for the last 

fifty years.

Denonn was a New York attorney who specialized in tax law, but his principal

love was philosophy and especially the life and work of Russell. Before taking

his law degree he had studied philosophy, earning an MA degree, with a

thesis on the philosophical signi

ficance of Plato’s myths, from Cornell Uni-

versity in 1924. After I got to know him, he told me how it happened that he

came to collect Russell’s writings. His love of books led him to frequent the

secondhand stores in New York. One day a bookdealer told him that he

should use his time in bookstores more wisely and collect books, not just

amass them. Denonn was taken by this remark and asked for suggestions as to

what he might collect, mentioning that his resources were very limited. The

dealer suggested the works of Russell, then in his prime as a writer. When

Denonn indicated interest, the dealer told him that he had just acquired a

scrapbook into which a previous owner had mounted a number of Russell’s

published articles. If Denonn were to buy it, he would have a decent start on a

collection, since ephemeral items are always the most di

fficult to find.

Denonn took the bait, bought and read the articles, and was hooked on

Russell for life. From then on he never passed up the opportunity to visit

secondhand bookstores. Throughout the great depression he bought books,

circling a page number to indicate the price he paid for the book. Although

he accumulated a mass of material by and about Russell, he was never a

systematic collector. Once he had a copy of some publication, say, a paper-

back copy of Why Men Fight (the American title of Principles of Social Reconstruc-

tion), he would pass up copies of both the British and American 

first editions.

He also had the disconcerting habit, typical of his generation, of throwing

away dustwrappers as soon as he got a book home. In Russell’s case this was

especially serious, since he nearly always wrote his own dustwrapper blurbs.

t h e   b a s i c   w r i t i n g s   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xii


Despite his lack of system he did acquire many items of great scarcity, mostly

ephemeral items published only in the United States. After his death his

collection was purchased by McMaster University for the Bertrand Russell

Archives. It is now being used by Kenneth Blackwell, the archivist, in the

preparation of a bibliography of Russell’s writings, to be published within

the next few years.

Denonn’s interest in Russell extended beyond collecting his writings. In

the 1940s he met Russell for the 

first of several times and wrote an article

reporting their conversation. His interest in Russell’s writings came to the

attention of Paul Arthur Schilpp, who was editing a volume on Russell for

The Library of Living Philosophers; Schilpp asked Denonn to prepare the

bibliography for the book. This bibliography, which was corrected and

expanded in later editions, served for decades as the major source for infor-

mation on Russell’s output. Even in its latest version, it lists only a fraction of

his writings, concentrating, as it might be expected to do in such a volume,

on his philosophical writings. In 1951 Denonn published The Wit and Wisdom

of Bertrand Russell, a collection of short excerpts from his works; and the follow-

ing year he brought out another such collection, Bertrand Russell’s Dictionary of



Mind, Matter and Morals, which, as its title suggests, is organized according to

concepts. These books, especially the second which had a very wide sale,

served to introduce Russell to a new set of readers. So when he joined forces

with Robert E. Egner to select the material for this book, he had been thor-

oughly over the ground to be covered and had de

finite ideas of what should

be included. Egner, a professional philosopher, had edited another book of

Russellian excerpts, Bertrand Russell’s Best,

first published in 1958. Sixteen books

and eight articles are quoted in it, so he too had devoted much time to

studying Russell’s writings. At the time this book was prepared for publica-

tion, therefore, it would not have been possible to 

find two editors better

prepared for their task than these two men.



John G. Slater

University of Toronto

i n t r o d u c t i o n   b y   j o h n   g .   s l a t e r

xiii


P

REFACE BY 

B

ERTRAND 

R

USSELL

Professor Egner and Mr Denonn deserve my very sincere gratitude for the

labour and judgment with which they have selected the following items from

my writings, which, in the course of a long life, have become so numerous

that they must at times have induced a feeling of despair in the editors. The

persistence of personal identity which is assumed by the criminal law, and

also in the converse process of awarding honours, becomes to one who has

reached my age almost a not readily credible paradox. There are things in the

following collection which I wrote as long as 

fifty-seven years ago and which

read to me now almost like the work of another person. On a very great many

matters my views since I began to write on philosophy have undergone

repeated changes. In philosophy, though not in science, there are those who

make such changes a matter of reproach. This, I think, results from the

tradition which assimilates philosophy with theology rather than with sci-

ence. For my part, I should regard an unchanging system of philosophical

doctrines as proof of intellectual stagnation. A prudent man imbued with the

scienti


fic spirit will not claim that his present beliefs are wholly true, though

he may console himself with the thought that his earlier beliefs were perhaps

not wholly false. Philosophical progress seems to me analogous to the grad-

ually increasing clarity of outline of a mountain approached through mist,

which is vaguely visible at 

first, but even at last remains in some degree

indistinct. What I have never been able to accept is that the mist itself conveys

valuable elements of truth. There are those who think that clarity, because it

is di

fficult and rare, should be suspect. The rejection of this view has been the



deepest impulse in all my philosophical work.

I am glad that Professor Egner and Mr Denonn have not con

fined them-

selves in their work of selection to what can be strictly called philosophy. The



world in which I have lived has been a very rapidly changing world. The

changes have been in part such as I could welcome, but in part such as I could

only assimilate in terms borrowed from tragic drama. I could not welcome

whole-heartedly any presentation of my activities as a writer which made it

seem as though I had been indi

fferent to the very remarkable transformations

which it has been my good or ill fortune to experience.

I should not wish to be thought in earnest only when I am solemn. There

are many things that seem to me important to be said, but not best said in a

portentous tone of voice. Indeed, it has become increasingly evident to me

that portentousness is often, though not always, a device for warding o

ff too


close scrutiny. I cannot believe in ‘sacred’ truths. Whatever one may believe

to be true, one ought to be able to convey without any apparatus of Sunday

sancti

fication. For this reason, I am glad that the editors have included some



things which might seem lacking in what is called ‘high seriousness’.

In conclusion, I should wish to thank the editors once again for having

brought together in one volume so just an epitome of my perhaps unduly

multifarious writings.

bertrand russell

p r e f a c e   b y   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xv


I

NTRODUCTION BY THE 

E

DITORS

Lord Russell has never particularly relished being anatomized although he

readily consented to each of us attempting it by selections previously pub-

lished. We have joined in this volume, again with his kind sanction, to present

what we trust will be generally accepted as a useful, de

finitive sampling of

complete essays and chapters indicative of the man and his work over more

than sixty years of astounding productivity.

When we have been queried on frequent occasions as to the reason for our

own continued absorbing interest in the myriads of words that have 

flowed

from his fertile mind, we have uniformly responded that we deliberately



chose his works as we know of no one comparable through whose eyes one

can survey the status and progress of contemporary thought in its many

variegations. It was that idea which prompted our selection from various

fields, in many of which Lord Russell pioneered and advanced human

thought and in all of which he spoke with distinction.

Few philosophers have had a more profound in

fluence on the course of

modern philosophy than Bertrand Russell. Perhaps no technical philosopher

has been more widely read, discussed and misunderstood. This volume is an

attempt to present within one cover the more de

finitive essays by Russell

from 1903, when he wrote his celebrated essay, ‘A Free Man’s Worship’, to

1959, when he wrote the frequently cited ‘The Expanding Mental Universe’.

The essays were chosen for their contribution to thinking at the time they were



written. As Russell himself says, ‘I am in no degree ashamed of having changed

my opinions. What physicist who was active in 1900 would dream of boast-

ing that his opinions had not changed?’

There is no adequate substitute for 

first-hand contact with original

thought; nor is there any substitute for reading the de

finitive works of any


great thinker in their entirety. Russell anthologies and collections have

appeared which show only one period in his thought. Some, for example,

reveal the views he held for a limited time (Mysticism and Logic, 1903–1917),

while others have been concerned with emphasizing his views on particular

subjects (Why I am not a Christian, 1957). It was not our purpose to add still

another to their number.

Our aim has been to present a wide portrait of the views of one of the few

seminal thinkers of the twentieth century. There will no doubt be readers

who would have wished that we had made di

fferent selections from Russell’s

works, but this problem confronts any anthologist.

The editors of any volume on a twentieth-century philosopher are faced

with a peculiar dilemma. The recency of the period and the strong emotional

attitudes about any major 

figure make it almost impossible to be objective.

The historian of an earlier period need only retouch the portraits presented

to him by tradition, however distorted they may be, but the anthologist of a

contemporary must write under the scrutiny of living admirers and

detractors. We venture to submit our selections and to let Russell and his

works speak for themselves.

Before letting the reader loose upon the pages that follow, we pause to

immortalize a London cabbie who drove one of us from a pleasant visit with

Sir Stanley Unwin to a London hotel. It was the day the Wood biography of

Russell appeared and the driver noticed a copy being admiringly thumbed.

‘Is that the new Russell biography I have been reading about?’

‘Yes, and I look forward to reading it.’

‘So do I. Wonderful mechanism, isn’t he?’

And so we invite you to the pages evidencing this wonderful mechanism.

robert e. egner

lester e. denonn

i n t r o d u c t i o n   b y   t h e   e d i t o r s

xvii


E

PIGRAMMATIC 

I

NSIGHTS FROM THE

P

EN OF 

R

USSELL

His life, for all its waywardness, had a certain consistency, reminiscent of that

of the aristocratic rebels of the early nineteenth century. His Own Obituary.

I had a letter from an Anglican bishop not long ago in which he said that all

my opinions on everything were inspired by sexual lust, and that the opinions

I expressed were among the causes of the Second World War. 

bbc Interview

with John Freeman. The Listener, March 19, 1959.

Boredom as a factor in human behaviour has received, in my opinion, far less

attention than it deserves. The Conquest of Happiness.

Every man would like to be God, if it were possible; some few 

find it difficult

to admit the impossibility. Power: A New Social Analysis.

In spite of the fundamental importance of economic facts in determining

politics and beliefs of an age or nation, I do not think that non-economic

factors can be neglected without risks of error which may be fatal in practice.



The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism.

The scepticism that I advocate amounts only to this (1) that when the experts

are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain; (2) that when

they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert;

and (3) that when they all hold that no su

fficient grounds for a positive

opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment.

Sceptical Essays.


I should make it my object to teach thinking, not orthodoxy, or even hetero-

doxy. And I should absolutely never sacri

fice intellect to the fancied interest

of morals. On Education Especially in Early Childhood.

I mean by wisdom a right conception of the ends of life. This is something

which science in itself does not provide. Increase of science by itself, there-

fore, is not enough to guarantee any genuine progress, though it provides

one of the ingredients which progress requires. The Scienti



fic Outlook.

Rational apprehension of dangers is necessary; fear is not. On Education Especially



in Early Childhood.

The main things which seem to me important on their own account, and not

merely as means to other things, are knowledge, art, instinctive happiness,

and relations of friendship or a

ffection. The Problem of China.

Instinct, mind and spirit are all essential to a full life; each has its own

excellence and its own corruption. The Analysis of Mind.

We have, in fact, two kinds of morality side by side: one which we preach but

do not practise, and another which we practise but seldom preach. Sceptical

Essays.

No nation was ever so virtuous as each believes itself, and none was ever so

wicked as each believes the other. Justice in War-Time.

But if human conceit was staggered for a moment by its kinship with the ape,

it soon found a way to reassert itself and that way is the ‘philosophy’ of

evolution. A process which led from the amoeba to man appeared to the

philosophers to be obviously a progress—though whether the amoeba

would agree with this opinion is not known. Our Knowledge of the External World.

Philosophy should be piecemeal and provisional like science; 

final truth

belongs to heaven, not to this world. An Outline of Philosophy.

The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good

ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of

rational conviction. Sceptical Essays.

To save the world requires faith and courage: faith in reason, and courage to

proclaim what reason shows to be true. The Prospects of Industrial Civilization.

e p i g r a m m a t i c   i n s i g h t s   f r o m   t h e   p e n   o f   r u s s e l l

xix


If it is the devil that tempts the young to enjoy themselves, is it not the same

personage that persuades the old to condemn their enjoyment? And is not

condemnation perhaps merely a form of excitement appropriate to old age?

(Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech) Human Society in Ethics and Politics.

There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot

face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Human Society in



Ethics and Politics.

There are in

finite possibilities of error, and more cranks take up unfashion-

able errors than unfashionable truths. Unpopular Essays.

. . . the Crotonians burnt the Pythagorean school. But burning schools, or

men for that matter, has always proved singularly unhelpful in stamping out

unorthodoxy. Wisdom of the West.

t h e   b a s i c   w r i t i n g s   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xx


C

HRONOLOGICAL 

L

IST OF 

R

USSELL’S

P

RINCIPAL 

W

ORKS

1896


German Social Democracy. (A chapter by Alys Russell.)

1897


An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry.

1900


A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz.

1903


The Principles of Mathematics.

1910


Principia Mathematica—Vol. I. (With A. N. Whitehead.)

1910


Philosophical Essays.

1912


Principia Mathematica—Vol. II. (With A. N. Whitehead.)

1912


The Problems of Philosophy.

1913


Principia Mathematica—Vol. III. (With A. N. Whitehead.)

1914


Our Knowledge of the External World as a Field for Scienti

fic Method

in Philosophy.

1914


Scienti

fic Method in Philosophy.

1914

The Philosophy of Bergson. (Controversy with H. W. Carr.)



1915

War, the O

ffspring of Fear.

1916


Principles of Social Reconstruction. (Why Men Fight: A Method of

Abolishing the International Duel.)

1916

Policy of the Entente, 1904–1914. (Part of: Justice in War-Time.)



1916

Justice in War-Time.

1917

Political Ideals.



1918

Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays.

1918

Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism. (Proposed



Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism.)

1919


An Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy.

1920


The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism. (Bolshevism in Theory and

Practice.)

1921

The Analysis of Mind.



1922

The Problem of China.

1922

Free Thought and O



fficial Propaganda.

1923


The Prospects of Industrial Civilization. (With Dora Russell.)

1923


The ABC of Atoms.

1924


Bolshevism and the West. (Debate with Scott Nearing.)

1924


Icarus or the Future of Science.

1924


How to be Free and Happy.

1924


Logical Atomism.

1925


The ABC of Relativity.

1925


What I Believe.

1926


On Education Especially in Early Childhood. (Education and the Good

Life.)


1927

Why I am not a Christian.

1927

The Analysis of Matter.



1927

An Outline of Philosophy. (Philosophy.)

1928

Sceptical Essays.



1929

Marriage and Morals.

1930

The Conquest of Happiness.



1930

Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?

1931

The Scienti



fic Outlook.

1932


Education and the Social Order. (Education and the Modern World.)

1934


Freedom and Organization 1814–1914. (Freedom versus Organiz-

ation 1814–1914.)

1935

In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays.



1935

Religion and Science.

1936

Which Way to Peace?



1936

Determinism and Physics.

1937

The Amberley Papers. The Letters and Diaries of Bertrand Russell’s



Parents. (With Patricia Russell.)

1938


Power: A New Social Analysis.

1940


An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth.

1945


A History of Western Philosophy.

1948


Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits.

1949


Authority and the Individual.

1950


Unpopular Essays.

1951


The Impact of Science on Society.

1952


New Hopes for a Changing World.

1953


Satan in the Suburbs and Other Stories.

1954


Nightmares of Eminent Persons and Other Stories.

1954


Human Society in Ethics and Politics.

1954


History as an Art.

1956


Portraits from Memory and Other Essays.

t h e   b a s i c   w r i t i n g s   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xxii


1956

Logic and Knowledge: Essays 1901–1950. (Edited by Robert C.

March.)

1957


Why I am not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related

Subjects. (Edited by Paul Edwards.)

1957

Understanding History and Other Essays. (Reprint of Earlier Essays.)



1958

The Will to Doubt. (Reprint of Earlier Essays.)

1959

Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare.



1959

My Philosophical Development.

1959

Wisdom of the West.



c h r o n o l o g i c a l   l i s t   o f   r u s s e l l ’s   p r i n c i p a l   w o r k s

xxiii


C

HRONOLOGY OF THE 

L

IFE OF

B

ERTRAND 

R

USSELL

1872


may 18. Born at Ravenscroft near Trelleck, Monmouthshire, England.

1874


Death of Lady Amberley, mother of Bertrand Russell.

1876


january. Death of Lord Amberley, father of Bertrand Russell,

followed by litigation over the will of his father. The designation

of freethinkers as guardians disa

ffirmed. His grandmother, Lady

Russell and Rollo Russell designated as his guardians. At Pembroke

Lodge.


1883

First lessons in Euclid from his brother, Frank. Studied under private

tutors.

1883


Began his philosophical speculations, particularly on religious prob-

lems. Penned his thoughts surreptitiously in a journal.

1890

Entered Trinity College, Cambridge.



1894

Took Moral Science Tripos. Fellowship dissertation on The Founda-

tions of Geometry. Honorary British Attaché in Paris. Marriage to Alys

Smith.


1895

Visit to Germany. Study at the University of Berlin. Lectured to the

London School of Economics and Political Science on German Social

Democracy. Elected Fellow of Trinity College.

1896

Visit to America with Alys Russell. Lectured at Johns Hopkins and



Bryn Mawr.

1898


Lectured at Cambridge on Leibniz. With G. E. Moore in rebellion

against Kant and Hegel.

1900

Attended the International Congress of Philosophy in Paris.



1905

First success with the Theory of Descriptions.

1907

Stood unsuccessfully for Parliament.



1908

Made a Fellow of the Royal Society.



1910

Entire decade devoted to collaboration with A. N. Whitehead on



Principia Mathematica. First volume published this year. Failed of nom-

ination for Parliament by the Liberal Party because of agnostic views.

Lecturer in Mathematical Logic at Trinity College, Cambridge.

1911


President of The Aristotelian Society. Separation from Alys Russell.

1913


Lecture at École des Hautes Sociales on The Philosophical Importance

of Mathematical Logic. Addressed the Heretics at Trinity College on

The Philosophy of Bergson.

1914


Gave the Herbert Spencer Lecture in Philosophy at Oxford on Scien-

ti

fic Method in Philosophy. Lectured on Our Knowledge of the



External World as Lowell Lecturer in Boston. Public speaker and

pamphleteer against World War I.

1915

Address to the Philosophical Society of Manchester on The Ultimate



Constituents of Matter.

1916


Fined £100 in the Everett Case because of a pamphlet criticizing a

two-year sentence of a conscientious objector. His library sold when

the

fine was not paid. Bought by his friends. Loss of his lectureship at



Trinity College.

1918


Gave a course of eight lectures in London describing his Logical

Atomism in which he acknowledges the in

fluence of Wittgenstein

over the past four years. Sentenced to six months in Brixton Prison

because of an article in which he quoted the report of a Congres-

sional investigation into the use of American troops against strikers.

Second Division sentence changed to First Division. Wrote Introduction

to Mathematical Philosophy while in prison.

1920


Visit to Russia.

1921


Divorce from Alys Russell. Marriage to Dora Black. Visit to China and

Japan. Lectured on The Analysis of Mind in London and Pekin. Birth

of John, Lord Amberley.

1922


Labour Candidate for Parliament. Gave the Moncure D. Conway

Memorial Lecture on Free Thought and O

fficial Propaganda.

1923


Labour Candidate for Parliament. Birth of Kate.

1924


Lecture tour in the United States. Debate with Scott Nearing before

the League for Public Discussion on Bolshevism and the West. Lecture

to the Free Youth at Cooper Union, New York, on How to be Free and

Happy.


1925

Tarner Lectures at Trinity College on The Analysis of Matter.

1927

Lecture tour in the United States. Started a school at Beacon Hill near



Peters

field. Became headmaster with Dora Russell as headmistress.

Lecture at Battersea Town Hall before the South London Branch of the

National Secular Society on Why I am not a Christian.

1929

Lecture tour in the United States. Talk to the Contemporary Thought



c h r o n o l o g y   o f   t h e   l i f e   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xxv


Class at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, on Three Ways to

the World.

1930

Debate with John Cowper Powys in New York on Is Modern Marriage



a Failure?

1931


Lecture tour in the United States. Debate with Sherwood Anderson on

Shall the Home be Abolished? Became Third Earl Russell on the death

of his brother, Frank.

1935


Divorce from Dora Russell. Withdraws from the school.

1936


Gave the Earl Grey Memorial Lecture at Armstrong College, Newcastle

upon Tyne, on Determinism and Physics. Marriage to Helen Patricia

Spence.

1937


Birth of Conrad.

1938


Lectures at Oxford on Language and Fact. To the United States where

he remained until 1944. Radio Discussion with T. V. Smith and Paul

Douglas on Taming Economic Power. Visiting Professor at The Uni-

versity of Chicago until 1939.

1939

Radio Discussion on University of Chicago Round Table on Is Security



Increasing? Addressed the Sociology Club of The University of

Chicago on The Role of the Intellectual in the Modern World.

Lectures at The University of California in Los Angeles until 1940.

1940


The William James Lectures at Harvard on An Inquiry into Meaning

and Truth. The Bertrand Russell Case involving the loss of his

appointment to the College of the City of New York.

1941


Lecturer at The Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania, on The

History of Philosophy. Spoke over 

cbs on the Invitation to Learning

programme with Huntington Cairns, Allan Tate and Mark Van Doren

on Hegel’s Philosophy of History. Radio talk over Station 

weaf with

Rex Stout, entitled Speaking of Liberty.

1942


Spoke over 

cbs on the Invitation to Learning programme with

Jacques Barzun on Descartes’s Discourse on Method and with Scott

Buchanan and Mark Van Doren on Spinoza’s Ethics. Later with Katherine

Ann Porter on Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Spoke on The American

Forum of the Air on What About India?

1943

Termination of the Barnes contract. Successful suit for breach of



five-year contract.

1944


Speaks at the Rand School, New York, over Station 

wevd on


Co-operate with Russia. Returns to England. Elected to Fellowship at

Trinity College, Cambridge, for a second time. The topic of his annual

course: Non-Demonstrative Inference.

1947


Addressed the National Book League at Friends House on Philosophy

and Politics.

1948

Accident on 



flight to Norway en route to Trondheim where he was to

t h e   b a s i c   w r i t i n g s   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xxvi


lecture on The Prevention of War. Saved himself by swimming in a

heavy overcoat for ten minutes. Gave the 

first Reith Lectures over bbc

on Authority and the Individual.

1949

Awarded the Order of Merit. Addressed the Westminster School on



Atomic Energy and the Problems of Europe.

1950


Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature ‘in recognition of his many-

sided and important work in which he has constantly stood forth as a

champion of humanity and freedom of thought’. Visit to Australia.

1951


Gave the Matchette Foundation Lectures at Columbia University in

New York on The Impact of Science on Society. Contributed to the

bbc Third Programme talks on The Political and Cultural Influence

(of America), The Nature and Origin of Scienti

fic Method and Scepti-

cism and Tolerance. Death of Alys Russell.

1952

Divorce from Patricia Russell. Marriage to Edith Finch.



1955

Awarded the Silver Pears Trophy for work on behalf of World Peace.

c h r o n o l o g y   o f   t h e   l i f e   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xxvii


A

CKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We, the editors, are especially grateful to Lord Russell for his kindness and

help as this project grew. Editors of anthologies from the works of eminent

thinkers are not often so fortunate as to have their work approved by the man

himself.

We are also grateful to the following for their generous help and valuable

assistance: Karen Bents, Sarah Merrill, Lonna Johnson and Morton White; our

wives for their indulgence, encouragement and keen editorial appraisal; and

the sta

ffs of our publishers for their full co-operation.



We add one rather unusual acknowledgement. We bow to each other at a

distance of almost two thousand miles. Our most enjoyable collaboration in

an equal distribution of labour has been done entirely by correspondence by

two editors who have never met. All has been jointly done so that we jointly

face and share the charge of errors of omission and commission which is

usually the reward of any anthologist.

We thank the following publishers and journals for permission to include

the selections that have been reprinted in this work:



Messrs George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Messrs Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc.

Messrs Albert & Charles Boni Inc.

Cambridge University Press

Columbia University Press

Dover Publications, Inc.

Messrs E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.

Haldeman-Julius Publications

Harper’s Magazine

Messrs William Heinemann & Co., Ltd.

The Hibbert Journal

Messrs Henry Holt & Company

The Humanities Press

The Independent Review

Messrs Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Messrs John Lane The Bodley Head

The Library of Living Philosophers

Look Magazine

Liveright Publishing Corporation

Messrs Lund Humphries, Ltd.

Messrs MacGibbon & Kee, Ltd.

The Macmillan Company

The New Statesman

New York Times Magazine

Messrs W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.

Oxford University Press

Messrs Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd.

St Louis Post Dispatch

Messrs Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Messrs C. A. Watts & Co., Ltd.

Full details of the source from which each selection has been made are

given at the end of each item.

robert e. egner

lester e. denonn

a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s

xxix


S

OME 

T

HOUGHTS 

A

BOUT 

B

ERTRAND 

R

USSELL

I owe innumerable happy hours to the reading of Russell’s works, something

which I cannot say of any other contemporary scienti

fic writer, with the

exception of Thorstein Veblen. 

albert einstein in The Philosophy of Bertrand



Russell—The Library of Living Philosophers.

He constitutes a fortunate example showing that a philosopher may owe his

success to clarity and cogency, to painstaking analysis and the renunciation of

the mysterious language of oracles. 

hans reichenbach, ibid.

The


flourishing condition of present-day ‘semiotic’ is a sufficient testimony

to the fertility of Russell’s ideas. 

max black, ibid.

Leibniz acquired his title to nobility by 

flattering powerful princes and

church o


fficials and by defending their feudal privileges; whereas Russell,

though born an aristocrat, has always defended the democratic tradition and

courageously opposed political and church authoritarianism at the cost of

the very type of worldly success which was so dear to Leibniz, 

philip

p. wiener, ibid.



Russell has not said the last word on these matters [philosophy of science];

but he has certainly inspired a great multitude of students to try to say a better

one. If the example of his own splendid devotion to independent thinking

counts for anything, it is safe to believe that he would not prefer to have a

di

fferent estimate placed upon his efforts, ernest nagel, ibid.



Bertrand Russell’s philosophical writings are delightful reading. Whatever

may be Russell’s place in philosophy, his literary writings certainly deserve a



place in any anthology of English prose. By this statement I do not mean to

belittle Russell’s contribution to philosophy. No contemporary writer has

done more to stimulate interest in philosophy than Russell and we are all

indebted to him. His contribution to logic, perhaps, overshadows his contri-

butions to other branches of philosophy because of its massiveness. But he

has enriched brilliantly and suggestively every branch of philosophy. 

john

elof boodin, ibid.



I believe there is little of importance in present-day philosophizing which

is not derived from him. The post-Russellians are all propter-Russellians.

alan wood in Russell’s Philosophy: A Study of Its Development.

His writings combine profundity with wit, trenchant thinking with literary

excellence, honesty and clarity with kindliness and wisdom. 

james r. new-

man in The World of Mathematics—George Allen & Unwin, London. Simon and

Schuster, New York.

Russell is without question one of the most productive and most brilliant

thinkers of our age, mathematical logician, philosopher, journalist and liber-

tarian, in some ways reminiscent of his early idol, Mill, and in others of

Voltaire because of his brilliance, his scope, and his iconoclasm. 

morton

white in The Age of Analysis: Twentieth Century Philosophers—Houghton Mifflin Co.



But by far the most devastating use of the sceptical weapon has come in our

own time from Bertrand Russell, who turns the Cartesian doubt against the

Cartesian ego itself. 

leslie paul in The English Philosophers—London, Faber &

Faber.

For while Russell is often in error on positions he assumes, and while he has



engaged in stormy and obdurate controversies with the passion of a political

rebel, he has managed always to remind men of those traditions of civility

and justice that distinguish the liberal spirit in Western civilization from the

times of Pericles to our own day. 

adrienne koch in Philosophy for a Time of

Crisis: An Interpretation with Key Writings by Fifteen Great Modern Thinkers—New York,

E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1959.

O science metaphysical,

And very, very quizzical,

You only make this maze of life the mazier;

For boasting to illuminate

Such riddles as Will and Fate

You muddle them to hazier and hazier.

s o m e   t h o u g h t s   a b o u t   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xxxi


The cause of every action

You expound with satisfaction.

Through the mind in all its corners and recesses

You say that you have travelled

And every thread unravelled

And axioms you call your learned guesses.

Right and wrong you’ve so dissected

And their fragments so connected,

That which we follow doesn’t seem to matter,

But the cobwebs you have wrought,

And the silly flies they have caught

It needs no broom miraculous to shatter.

You know no more than I

What is laughter, tear or sigh,

Or love, or hate, or anger or compassion;

Metaphysics then adieu,

Without you, I can do

And I think you’ll very soon be out of fashion.

Written in 1897 by Lady Russell, grandmother and guardian

of Bertrand Russell, as quoted in Earl Russell’s (Bertrand

Russell’s elder brother, Frank) My Life and Adventure—London,

Cassell & Co., Ltd., 1923.

t h e   b a s i c   w r i t i n g s   o f   b e r t r a n d   r u s s e l l

xxxii




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